Question: “how can I clean inside a double paned window? Our home is 12 years old with the original tilt-in windows. their is grime, spider web looking material and a film built up on the inside of the double panes. help!”
Double-pane windows utilize two pieces of glass that are constructed with an airtight seal between them. This seal is designed to lock the air in so it can act as an insulator. If water or dirt starts to build up between the two panes, it is an indication that this seal has been broken. This break can be as small as a pinhole.
In order to clean between the two pieces of glass, the windows would have to be completely taken apart, which would really break the seal. It is not possible to reseal the window without hiring a professional. Unfortunately, this means it’s not possible to clean between the two glass panes without ruining the window. If the seal is broken and dirt/moisture is starting to show, it is best to have the window replaced.
However, there are some things you can do to improve the look of it it if you can’t get it replaced right away.
Drilling a hole or two in the window will allow you to tuck a small desiccate packet into the space to absorb any moisture that has gathered there or rinse it out (with isopropyl alcohol) if there is dirt inside. If you decide to drill, use the information below shared by Billie Bob.
If rinsing the area is not enough to remove the dirt buildup, you will need to fashion a device to thread through the hole that you can use to wipe it out. This can be a pair of wool pantyhose on a drain snake (only if the drilled hole is wide enough for the bristles to pull back out in reverse) or a sock duct taped onto a piece of wire. You may want to tie or tape a long string onto the handle end of the drain snake or wire in case you accidentally drop it so you could use the string to pull it back out.
Another option besides rinsing the window or wiping it out is to point a fan on it after you have drilled a few holes in the seal. This will increase the air flow between the panes and allow any moisture that has gathered there to evaporate. This will not remove any dirt however, only moisture.
Without knowing where the initial break in the seal is located, the problem will continue. For this reason, we do not recommend re-sealing the holes so that you can clean the window again when needed. Also, if you were to seal the drilled holes, you would be sealing in the moisture that is currently in the air inside.
If moisture inside the window is the only problem, not dirt, you can try to remove the moisture with one of these methods.
- Put a dehumidifier near the window. This can be either a dehumidifier machine, a small room dehumidifier such as Damp Rid, or a DIY option like a container of charcoal briquettes with a few holes poked in the lid of the container.
- Lay a moisture absorber along the bottom edge. This can be either a water snake or a few desiccate packets.
- Put a space heater near the window or point a hair dryer at it. This may help the water to evaporate.
What about those windows which have two panels that can slide open – usually with a screen panel on the outside?
To dry out a frosty look between a double pane window, could you use a hair dryer on cool setting or warm setting, working around the seal if you cannot find the leak in seal? We have several windows that have done this and we cannot afford to replace them. Surely there is some way to help this situation. Would holding a hair dryer on the glass on the outer pane help any, and should we hold the hair dryer against window from outdoors or inside the house?
Yes, you can vaporize the water inside the glass by using a hair dryer with warm air. You will probably want to heat both sides of the window (alternating). Don’t put the hair dryer directly against the glass; a couple inches away with warm air should be fine.
For another idea: you could try laying a moisture absorber (there are a few different things that might work – the water snake moisture absorbers for door frames, desiccate packets, or even a homemade desiccate packet) along the seal to prevent moisture from gathering between the panes in the future.
Source: Chaos Leaves Town – House repairs & fixes… Repairs to Double-paned windows
Source: Green Energy Efficient Homes – Blow Drying Windows
Source: eHow – How to Make a Moisture Absorber
I read somewhere to make two tiny holes on the top and bottom, and flush out with alcohol.
Billy Bob says
You can try to drill a small hole, about 1/4 inch, into the seal between the glass about 2 inches from the corner edge. Then, on the same section of the seal, drill another 1/4 inch hole 2 inches from the opposite corner’s edge. Now, using a turkey baster or eye dropper or something similar, put about a half cup of denatured alcohol through the hole and between the panes of glass. Slosh the denatured alcohol around, covering all of the surfaces between the glass panes, then drain the alcohol out either of the two holes and let the leftover residue evaporate. Setting the window outside in the sun or using a blow dryer may speed this along. After the denatured alcohol is dried, use silicone caulk to close both of the holes that you drilled. Also, look around the seal to see if you can locate any other leaks that are letting moist air get in between the glass.
All you are doing is cleaning a unit that will always fog up. I work at a glass company and wouldn’t recommend this. Only replacing so you know it’s %100 sealed.
Forget the old window, go buy a new one, and this time get a quality one that will last awhile! And keep it clean, really clean, in and out!
The exercise will do you good, your windows will look a lot better, and you’ll be able to see outside again! If you have tenants, forget it, just clean them yourself! Cleaning is not in the vocabulary of most tenants!
The windows I have in my house are about 12 yrs old. The window in front is a 5′ x 7′ fixed window. I have been told that the only way to fix the fogging is to replace the window, at a cost of $1200. My windows are aluminum frames. I feel like these windows are a rip-off; I do not understand why they can build a new window, but cannot take the old window out, replace the seal and reinstall the window therefore saving the $7 per sq ft for tempered glass.
If you are not in a hurry, if you drill one hole around 1/4′ it will dry out by itself over a few weeks. At least mine have.
Where exactly are you drilling the hole? Picture please.
See Billy Bob’s comment for more information about using the drilling method. He recommends drilling the holes “about 1/4 inch [size of hole], into the seal between the glass about 2 inches from the corner edge. Then, on the same section of the seal, drill another 1/4 inch hole 2 inches from the opposite corner’s edge.” In other words, make the holes in the top left and bottom right corners (or top right and bottom left if preferred, as long as they’re opposite). Good luck!